Phillip Larson, Professor

Director of Earth Science Programs | Earth Lab Co-Director

Address: 335 Trafton North (TN 335)
Phone: 507-389-2617

Phil Larson's WEBSITE

UMN/MNSU MNiMORPH Research Group


I was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, and was raised along the banks of the upper Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers.  The geography of my upbringing resulted in a life-long interest in rivers, their landscapes they create and continuously transform, and the environmental issues revolving around the human-river interconnection.  This interest was energized as a child during family vacations to the canyons and incredible landscapes of the southwest United States.  Through these early experiences, a passion for understanding our world developed. When I entered my undergraduate pursuits, first at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (majoring in both Geography and Geology) and finishing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (major in Geography, minor in Geology), I continued to grow this passion by committing to life-long academic pursuits in Earth Science.  I continued these academic pursuits into graduate work (both Masters and Ph.D.) at Arizona State working with my advisors, Dr. Ron Dorn, and Dr. Mark Schmeeckle.  Today, I consider myself an Earth Scientist, but more specifically, a Geomorphologist with deep interests in using geomorphic systems to understand and address environmental issues impacting communities. I now serve as Earth Science Director, and EARTH Systems Laboratory Co-Director in my duties as Professor at Minnesota State, Mankato, in the Department of Geography.  I am also Graduate Faculty in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where I work closely with Dr. Andrew Wickert and our merged research group – MNiMORPH (see link above).

Climate change and land-use impacts on geomorphic systems, environmental issues in fluvial systems, fluvial geomorphology and drainage basin evolution, transverse drainage processes, landscape evolution and paleoenvironmental/paleogeographic change, geoarcheology, natural hazards/disasters.


DeLong, S.B., Engle, Z.T., Hammer, M.N., Jennings, C.E., Gran, K.B., Bartley, J.K., Blumentritt, D.J., Breckenridge, A.J., Day, S., Larson, P.H., McDermott, J.A., Triplett, L.D., Wickert, A.D., Richard, Emilie, M., *Swanson, M.A., Allison, M., Dahlseid, A., Dahly, D.T., Dean, B.A., Endres, M., Kurak, E., Link, S., Matti, B., Rehwinkel, R.W., Sockness, B., VanBerkel, J., Willard, J.G., and Williams, A.B., (2021). Inventory of landslides in the northwestern, northeastern, southern, and southeastern parts of Minnesota: United States Geological Survey data release.

Schaetzl, R., Running, G., Larson, P.H., Rittennour, T., Yansa, C., Faulkner, D. (2021).  Luminescence dating of sand wedges constrains the late Wisconsin permafrost interval in the upper midwest, USA. Boreas.

Larson, P.H., Dorn, R.I., Skotnicki, S., Seong, Y.B., DePonty, J. (2020). Impact of drainage integration on basin geomorphology and landform evolution: Case study along the Salt and Verde Rivers of the Sonoran Desert, USA. Geomorphology.

Skotnicki, S., Seong, Y.B., Dorn, R.I., Larson, P.H., Deponty, J. (2020). Drainage integration of the Salt and Verde Rivers in a Basin and Range extensional landscape, central Arizona, USA. Geomorphology

Hilgendorf, Z, *Wells, G., Larson, P.H., Millett, J., Swanson, M. (2020). From basins to rivers: Understanding the revitalization and significance of top-down drainage integration mechanisms in drainage basin evolution. Geomorphology.

Donovan, M., Belmont, P., Notebaert, B., Coombs, T., Larson, P.H., Souffront, M. (2019). Accounting for uncertainty in measurements of river channel migration. Earth Science Reviews

GK GILBERT AWARD RECEPIENT – American Association of Geographers:Faulkner, D., Larson, P.H., Jol, H.M., Running, G.L., Loope, H.M., and Goble, R.J. (2016). Episodic Incision and Terrace Formation Resulting from Abrupt Late-Glacial Base-Level Fall, Lower Chippewa River, Wisconsin, USA. Geomorphology. 266: 75-95.  DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.04.016 

Larson, P.H., Dorn, R.I., Faulkner, D.J, Friend, D.A. (2015). Toe-Cut Terraces: A Review and Criteria to Differentiate from Traditional Fluvial Terraces. Progress in Physical Geography. DOI: 10.1177/0309133315582045


  • Geography 101 - Introduction to Physical Geography (intro to Earth Systems Science) (in-person and online)
  • Geography 313 - Natural Disasters (in-person and online)
  • Geography 315 - Geomorphology
  • Geography 409 - Water Resources
  • Geography 415 - Earth Surface Processes
  • Geography 416 - Fluvial Geomorphology and Hydrology (Writing Intensive)
  • Geography 417 - Quaternary Environments and Climate Change
  • Geography 440 - Field Methods
  • Geography 440 - Southwest USA: Geoscience, National Parks, Environmental Issues, and Archeology


  • Geography 509 - Water Resources
  • Geography 515 - Earth Surface Processes
  • Geography 516 - Fluvial Geomorphology and Hydrology
  • Geography 517 - Quaternary Environments and Climate Change
  • Geography 540 - Field Methods
  • Geography 610 – Advanced Geomorphology
  • Geography 610 - Desert Geomorphology
  • Geography 610 - Arid Environments
Torch end